Recent work based on ideomotor theory and Ihe discovery of the mirror neuron system has suggested that Ihe observalion
of an action is associated with Ihe aclivalion of the corresponding motor representation in the observer. In accordance with
this hypothesis it has been demonstrated that observing an action interferes with one's own actions when these are different
from those being observed. This. however. raises the question how we avoid automatic imitation? More specifically. how
can we distinguish the motor program activated by our intention from that triggered by observation? Recent neuroimaging
studies have revealed that the control of automatic imitative responses leads to activation in the anterior medial prefrontal
cortex and the tempora-parietal junction. These areas are core regions of a network involved in higher-order abilities in
social cognition. such as mentalizing (i.e .• the ability to reflect on other people's mental states). Based on such brain imaging
results. it has been hypothesized that the control of shared representations draws on the interaction between these "social""
brain regions and the mirror system. The proposed study aims to understand how high-level cognitive functions and motor
mirroring interact at a neural level in the control of imitative behaviour and to explore the functional overlap between the
control of shared representations and implicit forms of mentalizing. The research place itself at the interface between the
research on motor control and social neuroscience and wants to integrate knowledge developed in different domains. With
these objectives in mind. the applicant will conduct a series of studies by combining diferent methodological approaches and
techniques. such as brain stimulation techniques and neuroimaging. and use state-of-the-art computational tools. such as
multi-voxel patern analysis to analyze neuroimaging data.